Discussion: Karl Marx (Anja Steinbauer)

Is religion really the "opium of the masses"? Does capitalism "alienate" us from society, from our life-world and even from ourselves? What is "historical materialism"? Karl Marx (1818 - 1883), who spent much of his creative life in London, has given us much to think about: he introduced new concepts, questions and approaches to thinking that continue to haunt us even today: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." – We will explore Marx's own interpretations of the world, and assess their potential to change our lives.

Please note that the room does have limited capacity, and that people will hear about this event via the Bishopsgate Institute, as well as via Meetup and via the Philosophy for All website and programme. This means that replying "yes" here does not guarantee you a place. We will always try to fit everyone in, but very occasionally, an event is so popular that we have to turn some people away. If lots of people (say, more than 40) have replied "yes" here, it would be a good idea to turn up reasonably early. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

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  • Steve F.

    Impossible to do adequate justice to Marx in the short time available but nevertheless very useful and informative. I would have gladly spent the whole session on Marx and freedom - but this is probably because like Popper and Berlin I believe him to be a serious threat to freedom however illuminating his insight on alienation and economics were. Marx was interested in freedom for 'Species man' - a theoretical construct that permits the proponent to happily deny freedom to individuals on the way to the promised future. Again Marx adumbrated a single teleological aim for history and hence humanity denying that values can be, indeed are, varied and incommensurable and not the monophonic Ley lines of Marxist theory. And my favourite Marx related paradox is this - the giant Philips electronic company was co-founded by a nephew of Marx.

    June 29

    • Riccardo P.

      I really love what you wrote. I think it sums up all of what it can be say about Marxism. I don't know if these things are your own personal beliefs or were taken by some other influential figure thinkers of the past or present though. I'm not an expert but I've come to the same conclusions

      June 30

  • A former member
    A former member

    I said social security means that now people do not have to work to survive. Yes, people are still starving in Britain, but not enough people to constitute a mass, revolutionary movement. The debate we had about Marx, was largely irrelevant to now. Marxists seem to favour an 'objective', deterministic, pseudo-scientific theory based on material and labour. Frankly, people haven't taken vaguely Newtonian, views of society and the self, like these, seriously for a long time, it feels laughably rigid and inflexible.

    Anja's emphasis on freedom and alienation brought Marx into a contemporary context, but not effectively, perhaps due to time constraints, but her side-stepping the authoritarian Marxist regimes, that have existed in practise of his ideas, was a complete cop out. No doubt, serious observations can be cherry-picked from Marx, he did dominate philosophy for a century, but anything more sounds more like Christians proclaiming Jesus is alive and waiting to save your soul.

    June 29

    • David S.

      The point is what about India and China. India has better human rights than China but more starvation. China is a real dictatorship with their one child policy and they execute more people than any where else in the world. Remember Tinamin Square. The people in China could rise up and demand a democratic system. The good thing about Chinese system is that food prices are controlled and there is less starvation. Eastern Europe has got rid of Communism and there is more poverty. In Hungary they have got rid of a very good institution Conductive Education because of cuts for example. To sum up the Debate about Communism can be discussed for other Countries in the World although I am not sure that Dictatorship like China is good any where.

      June 30

    • Riccardo P.

      sometimes it may happen that an authoritarian country may be better than a democratic one but that's easy to explain. Dictatorships may be led by good people and democratic country may have an immature democracy (namely when people don't control their elected people). This has happened many times in the past with for example some Roman Emperors and in the Renaissance age in Italy where the unelected people in charge where enlightened and brought about a good level of life and to some extend freedom. The problem with dictatorships is that you have to leave it to chances while in a democracy you can act more directly to change the leadership if it turns out that is inadequate or corrupt or inefficient or incompetent

      June 30

  • bill t.

    I believe that the presenter made a good job of presenting a narrative string of what was promised, opium of the masses and alienation. I believe that meetings such as the philo for all elevates discussion above what is possible on email, even though even after reducing the body of what marx contributed to what appear as two elements, opium and alienation, there is still enough diversity to fill the albert hall. and the repercussions of diversity quite obviously roll on endlessly, as they do imho. i do feel that an aftershock meeting or grouping of those who care passionately would be a good idea, but as an idea it is difficult to manifest in practice since folk slot in a seminar and are off to some other london delight, or home to tea and muffins.

    1 · June 29

  • David S.

    Interesting but the teacher assumed a knowledge of Marx. An interesting point is that one is working Class if one has to sell ones Labour in order to l ive.
    Someone said that as anyone poor is entitled to Social Security it cannot arise that one is forced to work to make ends meet. Some people fall through the net as they are not entilted to Job Seekers Allwoance or Disabliity benefits.

    June 28

  • bill t.

    very good

    June 28

  • Marie-Pierre

    Very Interesting

    June 28

  • gita s.

    sorry, I'm behind with preparations for my trip to Portugal tomorrow. Jusging by the numbers you wont miss me!

    June 28

  • Riccardo P.

    I'd like to come but I've got my children

    June 27

  • Nick S.

    Sadly, I'm going to have to cancel - too much happening in my life :-(

    June 25

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